Project Description:

Our project is a house displaying multiple optical illusions. The idea for this house is that different rooms can play tricks on the audience's eyes. Each room of the house will require interaction from the audience. We plan on using mirrors, angles, and lights to create illusions. We want to make it look both like a real house and an interactive playhouse. It will have two floors of varying components.


Weekly Assignment:

What we completed:


Steph - Research optical illusion ideas

Jessica - Research optical illusion ideas

Steph - I looked at different optical toys that we can include in the house at Youtube helped me add ideas to our list.

Jessica- I viewed some videos on youtube that gave me ideas of good ways to use arts and crafts to create optical illusions. Here are the links:

We both looked at the Ames Room video and found another video that told us exactly how to create this room the exact size we disire it to be. In fact it offered a template that we can print out and craft into the house. link:


Steph - Draw architecture and start building the house

Jessica - Complete a written layout of the house and start building the house

Steph- I drew a plan for the house after discussing the written layout with Jessica. We are still thinking about how to fit different projects/elements in.

Jessica- I completed a written layout of the house on plain white paper. Now, we have a better picture of how the house will look. It will have two floors and floor will be cut in half. On the top floor, we will have the Ames room, Reversing goggles, Shrinking coins, and disappearing coins. On the bottom floor, there will be an illusion of a tunnel and one way mirrors.


Steph - Pick up a glass cuter from Home Depot and finish drawing. Think of haunted-theme design for the 2nd floor room. Pick at least two optical illusions ideas to investigate deeply about, draw a diagram, and formulate methods to build a draft of them.

Jessica - Create a chart with each component of the house included and add links of each idea and some description of how we will build at least three.Pick at least two optical illusions ideas to investigate deeply about, draw a diagram, and formulate methods to build a draft of them.

Steph- I finished the sketch of the house but wasn’t able to pick a glass cutter. I also have a design for the haunted-themed room of the house.

Jessica- I finished the chart, but there are many the description is very poor because we still have not researched much about. We have more to learn, and so each will focus on at least two of the ideas to research and build a draft of. I will focus on the disappearing coins and the mirror house.


Steph- Gather materials for the mirror house component of the whole optical illusive house. Study the angles that mirrors are set away from each other in an actual mirror house to plan for ours.

Jessica- Built the draft for the mirror house and draft for the disappearing coins component.

Steph- I bought a large plate of mirror to use for the mirror house component as well as for the upside-down glasses. I also got glass cutting supplies that will allow me to start constructing the glasses. In addition, I got thin pieces of wood and glass to make the two windows for one of our illusions in the second floor.

Jessica-I built a draft for the disappearing coins optical illusion. I built it out of cardboard, construction paper, tape and glue. it is very simple and crafty, even though it did take me some hours to plan and build. Since I didn’t have a piece of mirror that would fit perfectly into the model i had made I used aluminum foil to make the illusion. Of course it is not the best material for this project, but fora draft it outlines perfectly how we will build it and how it will function. The mirror house, well, was not a successful project. First of all, when I planned it out on paper it made a lot of sense to me, but when I began building it I was confused on what our purpose was. I did not know if to design it as a real mirror house, supposing that something would be walking through it and viewing from the inside, or that the audience would move an object throughout the house and viewing from the outside. I was really confused, so I did not build the mirror house. Also, I thought that not having mirrors would be a huge difficulty in trying to see the effects. Although I’m disappointed, at least I have something built to bring to school next Monday.


Steph- Use the sketched model of the house to come up with a realistic plan of measurements and size of objects.

Jessica- I will write up a list of materials for the real disappearing coins optical illusion.

We both started building the house out of wood. We want to get the structure completed so that we can work on the contents as soon as possible.


Steph- This week, I hope we can finish building the model of the house and make a realistic plan of where things will be placed and decide the size of the actual house.

Jessica - We will continue trying to build the house and I will make a diagram of the house with dimensions of the house, every component of the house, and the components location.

Steph - I worked with Jessica and Mark to finish planning the haunted-themed component of the house. We also have the materials ready for us to build the model of our house.

Jessica- We collected the wood for the house and I drew a model of the house on paper so that we can be more organized about the real house we will build in the future. We have the tools needed available in our classroom and are ready to build the model house. I drew a diagram of the model house and its dimensions. Also, I came up an idea


Steph- This week, we will finish building the model house and planning the realistic dimensions of each component.

Jessica- I found a piece of wood we can use to make our first model for the house and my goal is to bring it in. Our goal is to work together to finish building the model.

Steph - Jessica and I finished building the model house but realized that it took a great amount of time to get that done. Because of that, we came to the conclusion that if we are going to spend a lot of time building and planning out the actual dimensions of the house and trying to model the house with proportions, we should instead start building the actual thing. I found the MAKE event to be extremely helpful especially having met a parent of a young maker who showed us the basics of Google SketchUp. Knowing how it works, I feel that we will be able to use that to plan out the house and add detail and visuals to our mutual vision. Taking the path of planning and designing is much more convenient for us now than starting to build something again that may not be what we want a couple of weeks from now. I had forgotten that a lot of the Exploratorium’s attractions are like the kind of illusions we want to create in miniature size so I came back with ideas and a couple of gadgets to add to our house.

Jess - Finishing building our model structure of the house made us realze that we should rather start designing our real house and building it. In the maker fair event at the exploratorium a SketchUp expert showed us how to use the program to design the house. We learned the basic functions of the program of how to build the house. This also made us realize that it would be better to just wait until we plan our house on sketch up and meanwhile work on the optical illusion components of the house. I will try doing more of what I did over the spring break because it definitely was a lot of help. Also, at the exploratorium the presentations gave me some ideas of incorporating into our house. For example, a couple of girls made jewelry out of toy scrap which I think that would work for us. I am sure I can find some toys my little sister Monica doesn’t use anymore and see if I can use them. I will take them apart and use parts I think are useful for the furniture, figures of people in the house, or other fun components. However, I think that most of our objects we will be able to create with the 3D printer using SketchUp. Also, we got a closer look at the Ames Room, most commonly known as the distorted room, at the exploratorium.


Steph - I will start designing the house on SketchUp. At least the outline of the house and walls, and the cutouts of the doors and windows will be on there.

Jess - I will work with Steph on the designing the house on SketchUp. Also, I will try to explore on how to create a projector to create the pepper’s ghost effect in the haunted room.

Steph- SketchUp(1hr.): Jess and I took half an hour two times this week to start working on the model of our house on SketchUp. After we were taught the basics at the Exploratorium we were confident enough to go back to school and try it ourselves. Soon we found that it is a little tricky since objects get distorted and some things cant be maneuvered. We also found that SketchUp creates illusions to after realizing that you have to look at an object from different angles to know it is in the place you want it to be in. We will have to watch more tutorial videos.

Exploratorium (2hr.): After finally finding bus 30, Jess and I took a trip to the Exploratorium where we looked around for the Maker Faire group. Mr. V found us and led us to the room where the group soon was broken up into smaller groups to discuss student’s projects. That’s when one parent helped us grapple with the basics of SketchUp. In the end, there was a presentation around the theme of toys. Two women made jewelery form recycled material and Legos. One man steam-controlled robots. Another helped design KeepOn, which is a simple bot designed to help autistic kids interact. Finally, there was the show stealing Sawaya who gave up his career as a lawyer to build Lego sculptures.


SketchUp (1 hr.): Stephanie and I met on Tuesday and Thursday for 30 minutes before school and worked on creating a model diagram of our optical illusions house on SketchUp. Even though we were introduced to the program by a very nice parent at the Maker Fair event at the Exploratorium, we sometimes got stuck. I guess it takes practice to get really familiar with the functions and the shortcuts. However, we did get a good head start on the diagram. We have created a diagram of the basic house structure, the windows, the peep hole, and where the tunnel of LEDs is going to go. the windows we did not actually create them ourselves, we downloaded it from the “components” library on SketchUp. Next, we need to fill the house in with the haunted room furniture, the projector, the distorted room, the reverse-image glasses, and the mirrors of the mirror house.

Projector(1 hr)- Last Monday our mentor Tony told us how we could make a projector. I build a projector using a shoe box, and plan on operating it with my cell phone and a magnifying glass. I am planning to take it to school and ask Mr. V if I can borrow one of his magnifying glasses. However, I will probably have a chance to shop this weekend and find one in the store. With the projector I will be able to place my phone inside the shoe box and the image is projected through the magnifying glass onto the wall. Also, with this projector I am able to push and pull an image or a cell phone front and backwards with the cardboard handle I designed.


Steph- Continue working on the SketchUp model of our. Start building the actual house.


Buy plywood and start building the house.

Steph- SketchUp(2hr.): Jess and I have made it a regular plan to work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for half an hour to work on the SketchUp model. We have added materials to the walls of our house, a version of the Ames Room we found in Google’s warehouse, and added sofas and a mirror to our ‘living room.’ I also took an hour at home to keep working on the model because the sooner we get done with it the faster we will be able to start on our actual house. I managed to get dimensions of the objects worked out and added furniture. I also worked out the Ames Room and made the peep holes match with the holes on the Ames Room desgn.

Jess- SketchUp(1hr)-Stephanie and I met on Tuesday and Thursday for 30 minutes before school and worked on creating a model diagram of our optical illusions house on SketchUp. We made the house look more realistic. We also added some furniture: 2 sofas and a mirror.  We found the Ames Room/distorted room already built in the components and downloaded it, but we didn’t get the chance to integrate it with the house. we also watched tutorials for about 20 minutes on Tuesday and we learned about the the “follow me” tool. This tool allows you to build a complex object, like a lamp with basic shapes, and transform it into a 3D object.  

Projector(1hr)- Mr. V was nice enough to lend me a magnifying glass and other optical illusion glass figures. They are really cool. I think Steph and I should talk about maybe thinking about how to integrate them to the house. Mr. V also told me he had this other optical illusion apparatus I thought was really cool with his description. When I tested the projector it worked! I was so proud and amazed. I will take it to school tomorrow soon to show Stephanie.



Jess- Hand sketch the house


Jess- (2 hrs) I completed a final sketch of the house using the model we created on Sketch Up. The first draft of the sketch was identical to the one we did on sketch up. That only took me 30 minutes. Later, I had an idea. our previous model did not include the disappearing coin compartment and I wanted to integrate in. The next draft included the disappearing coin illusion. that took me about 45 minutes. Finally, I decided that I needed to draw my final sketch including the projector and adding something to the wall of the Ames room. i figured that the wall looked too plain and because we wanted it to look more like a house I added windows and the tunnel illusion on the Ames room wall. The windows on the back wall of the haunted room will actually be upside-down vision glasses. The shelf in the haunted room is actually the projector and it will portray an image on a little toy TV, a scary image.


Steph -

Jess- Go to Michael’s and see if I can find mirrors on our materials list.Also, shop around in addition to Michael’s to find a symmetrical object easy to cut in half that will be large enough to fit our 15” by 25” disappearing coin illusion.

Steph -

Jess- (1 hr) I went to Michael’s Wednesday afternoon to look for mirrors, a symmetrical object easy to cut, and any other other objects that we could use for our optical illusion house. I spent 1 hour at Michael’s looking for these items but I couldn’t find any pre-cut mirrors, which were my main priority. The mirrors were little tiles of mirror, but they were too small for our project. The only thing I found was a symmetrical object easy to cut. I bought a big blue flower that we could easily cut for out “disappearing coin” illusion of the house.

(30min) I went to Home Depot after going to Michael’s in search for pre cut mirrors, but I had no luck.

(1hr)-I went to home depot to get the wood for our house. I got it cut at the store into: 1-35”x25”, 3-35”x15”, 3-25”x15”. By the way, customer service at Home Depot is horrible I waited for someone to help me for 30 minutes.



Jess & Steph- build at least half of the house

Jess-This week we started building the house, but as my homework for this week I did something a little bit different.

(1hr) It took me approximately half an hour to look for and find this old mini projector my dad bought last Christmas. Once I found it, I spent some time playing around with it. I plugged in my little sister’s portable DVD player and it worked great. The brightness was much better than the projector I built once and the image was much clearer. I figured it is small enough for us to use for our house.


Jess - Build the house by putting the wood together. We plan on coming in on Wednesday either during advocacy time or after lunch to work on our project.

Steph - Our goal for this week is to finish building the house. We will add strips of wood for support of the very thin plywood.

Jess - (1hr) We came in to advocacy time in period two and built most of the house. All we need are two walls in he inside of he house and the roof.

Steph - (1hr) On Wednesday, Jessica and I spent an hour working on our house. We managed to put it all together. We still need to add support and attach the roof. We also have to figure out whether we are going to have a bottom drawer component.


Steph - Work on sketch of the house.

Jess-Research more optical illusions or compartments that could go well in the house

Steph- (1hr) I am close to done sketching a more accurate model of the house. Since we finished building it all we have to do now is work on the components and put them into the house accordingly.

Jess- (45min) I researched a few optical illusions that would go very well with the components that we have already agreed on. To go with the haunted room, I researched ways of creating an illusion of fire for the fireplace we could integrate into the haunted room. I think the best way of creating the illusion of fire is with silk, a fan, light, and wood. I researched small fans and the only ones I found were hand held fans. i was thinking that if we place it in position and jut tape it down, the button will be presses and the fan will be operating. Then, I researched of good ways of creating an illusion of a tunnel. I still like the idea with the LED lights and mirror, but concluded that if it is a semi-circle, rather than a circle, it will appear more like a tunnel. Then, to go with the scene, I sketched a road with trees. I was thinking that we could make a little car move along the road. Maybe we could program it, make it a remote control, or a magnent car, allowing the audience to move it from below. Now that I think about it, I think this floor should be the second, not the first. Therefore, the equipment that goes with the fireplace will be able to be stored below the house.

(20 min) I drew up a sketch of all that I brainstormed and drew its location on the house.


Steph - Replace long screws and glue supporters.

Steph - (1hr) On Thursday, Jessica and I spent our flex hour unscrewing the long screws to replace them with the short screws Mark brought us. We also glued the wood block supporters for extra support.


Steph - Add straight nails to our house in the areas where the screws are loose. Work on the tunnel light pendant piece.

Jess & Steph (2hrs)- We worked together on Wednesday and Friday during class to finish building our house. We replaced the long nails with short ones and added glue onto the support pieces so that the house is more stable. Finally, the house is ready for optical illusions.

Optical Illusions:

dice/mirror illusion idea-;_ylt=A0PDoS7VfpBPTTkAHCSJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBlMTQ4cGxyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1n?



Next Steps for the next few months:


  1. upside down goggles
  2. one-way mirrors
  3. magnifying glass
  4. moving pictures for background/ceiling/floor
  5. slanted mirror inside a cube
  6. pair of tunnel light pendants- use of mirror to create optical illusion of an endless tunnel with LED lights
  7. neocube to open the door, move things (magnetically), etc.
  8. pepper’s ghost effect
  9. Ames Room
  10. this little camera
  11. Motion induced blindness
  12. paper optical illusions (drawings/3D)




List of materials to build house: